The BSSC community has taken up Maree Crabbe’s challenge to have a serious talk about porn. Most students, teachers and a number of parents have attended sessions today by one of Australia’s leading experts on issues affecting young people.

It was while coordinating a violence prevention program that Maree first became aware that young people were increasingly using porn to gain knowledge about sex.

“People have never had so much access to material like this,” she said. “It is like some vast social experiment, and the results are not looking good. Sex can be fantastic if we make good choices, and those choices have a bigger impact than we might realise.”

Extensive research has linked porn to a number of issues, including the fact that most porn demonstrates unsafe sex; that porn bodies are not real/normal bodies; and that porn misrepresents pleasure—because the actors are acting for the camera/viewer.

Violence, humiliation and aggression—especially from men towards women—is common in porn, and is reinforcing Australia’s epidemic of violence against women. “Yet much porn communicates that women are there for men’s sexual pleasure,” Maree said. “Some women even feel they need to pretend to enjoy something they find humiliating or painful. But most women do not like or want what is common in pornography… consent is crucial.”

For young people who are not yet sexually active, porn can shape neural pathways, sexual tastes, thoughts, attitudes and imagination.

So, what to do?

Maree suggested either giving porn a miss or being extremely choosey about what you see.

“Never use porn that demonstrates unsafe, humiliating or abusive behaviour,” she said. “Aim for something better; for relationships that are based on respect, care, communication and consent. Listen to one another. Ask. Enjoy.”

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